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Country cap in reach for Jeff Goninan

Jeff GoninanJEFF Goninan must have one hand on a second NSW Country cap.
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His 175 runs at an average of 175 for the Newcastle representative team at the NSW Country Cricket Championships in Ballina recently made the 21-year-old hard to ignore for the next Bush Blues’ next campaign.

The Stockton-Raymond Terrace batsman then further pushed his case with a second club century on Saturday against Cardiff-Boolaroo.

It was his seventh first-grade ton for Stockton.

On Wednesday Goninan was modest about his NSW Country chances.

‘‘It’s more about winning games for Newcastle at the moment,’’ Goninan said.

‘‘If you get picked in these sides it’s always a bonus.’’

At the forefront of Goninan’s focus is helping Newcastle defend their Country Championship, by defeating Western in the final on Sunday at Orange.

One thing is clear, after a few seasons of promise Goninan has arrived at a representative level.

Besides the trip to Ballina, that included an unbeaten 70and 105, Goninan was Newcastle’s most impressive batsman in their failed Sydney grade cricket campaign.

His 42 off 23 balls, that included five sixes, gave Newcastle Steel a fighting chance in their loss to St George.

‘‘You’re never a permanent member I don’t think, not at this stage,’’ he said.

‘‘After scoring runs it feels like you have performed and I guess you could say I feel more a part of the team.’’

In all forms of cricket this summer for Stockton and the Newcastle rep team Goninan has scored 550runs at an average of 50.

Sydney grade cricket clubs are also said to be growing interested in the apprentice carpenter.

Asked if he aspired to move to Sydney, Goninan said: ‘‘I still do, but I’m enjoying my work and job in Newcastle.’’

Stockton player-coach and former NSW Country opening batsman Trent Colley has no doubt his teammate will be wearing a baggy Bush Blues cap at the Australian Country Championships in Bendigo come January 5.

‘‘If you were to write down a NSW Country or Newcastle side Jeff’s name would be among your top three or four picks,’’ Colley said.

‘‘Jeff’s next goal would be to cash in at that next level, and I’m sure he will, which is getting NSW Country selection again.’’

Newcastle cricket has long been calling out for a member of the next generation to make a claim to be the heir apparent for veteran batsmen Simon Moore and Mark Littlewood.

‘‘What Jeff has shown from last season to this one has been a highlight,’’ Colley said.

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